June is a month of new beginnings for a lot of people. I have several graduation announcements from friends who children are graduating from high school, I have a couple of wedding announcements, several of my co-workers retired, many students from the student ward where I served as bishop graduated and are now beginning new chapters in their lives, and I just attended a memorial service for an aunt. It is a time of new beginnings for my wife and I as well. If you noticed in the previous sentence that I said, “served as bishop”, past tense. I was released not long ago and we are now attending our home ward for the first time in almost seven years. Changes in our lives can be a challenge and sometimes a scary thing.
It can be a stressful time for those going through the changes. For the high school graduate decisions about going on to college, serving a mission, or finding full-time work can be a stressful. College graduates now having spent their entire lives in school now need to move on and become contributing citizens and employees. Newly married couples now need to figure out how two individuals become one. This time of change can also be a challenge to the parents whose children are graduating, getting married, or for themselves if they are retiring. Uncertainty is the biggest cause of stress in our lives when we experience change. Change is part of life and tests our character and helps refine us.
One of the best things we can do when faced with change is have faith – faith in Jesus Christ. We must trust that the Lord is with us and knows what is best for us and our family. The Plan of Salvation is also called the “plan of happiness” for a reason. We are to experience joy and happiness in this life. The scriptures tell us “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). We need to remember to find joy in all that we do, including when we experience change in our lives. Another scripture teaches: “all these things (the things we experience in our lives) shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater that he?” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7-8)
The changes for my wife and I mean that we will never see members of our student ward that we have grown to love as much as our children. It means that we will have the opportunity to have new callings in the ward where we live. We look forward to serving where ever the Lord asks. Having been the one that was extending callings to members, I can testify that it is the Lord that is calling us to serve not the person who is extending the call. The person extending the call represents the Lord and how we respond reflects on our testimony and our willingness to sustain our leaders.
Being able to attend our home ward also gives us the opportunity to have two of our grandsons come with us. Because of our daughter’s work, she is not able to attend church on Sunday’s very often and her boys have missed out. Now, like we did when we were parents with young children, we now have a 4-year-old and a twelve-year-old sitting with us in church. We are once again learning to be patient with siblings that struggle to be reverent and quite in church while we try to feel the spirit of those speaking and teaching us. We are excited to have this opportunity again and it has reminded us to have patience for families that are experiencing the same thing with their children. We know that some Sunday’s will be better than others, but we would not want to have these precious youth anywhere else than by our sides in church. There is one other place and that would be with their mother in their own ward, but for now this is as good as it can be.
Another year and I will have one of the biggest changes in my life since graduating from college and getting married; I will be retiring. For my wife and I this will be an opportunity for us to spend more time with each other, our children and grandchildren but it will be an opportunity to serve a mission together. This has been a goal of ours for almost 42 years. We are excited about the opportunity to spend time together and look forward to strengthening our love for each other discovering new and exciting things together.
Mortality is a time of change and growth. It does not matter what you are faced with, graduation, marriage, job changes, retirement, sickness and even death; if we have faith in our Savior Jesus Christ we will get through it. For now, we look forward to the new beginnings that are ahead. We have faith that the Lord will direct our lives for good and He will use us and our talents in continuing to build his kingdom here on earth and we will serve with joy and gladness.
Your comments and questions are welcome.